A church in Connecticut is suing the state over a vaccine mandate that might force the closure of its school.
In 2021, Connecticut did away with religious exemptions for required vaccines, leaving only medical exemptions as options for students.
Milford Christian Church filed the suit, claiming the change resulted in a First Amendment violation since its school wouldn’t be able to offer religious exemptions for the students requesting them, Fox News reports.
“[The church] had a choice between compelling their students to vaccinate, expelling them if they didn’t, or facing the forceable state closure,” Cameron Atkinson, the attorney representing the church, said at a press conference last week. “Our message to the state is clear. We will obey God first.”
In addition to concerns over their parental and religious rights, some parents are worried the state’s interference could cause learning loss.
“It would halt the academic progress, and I want my daughter to be able to start kindergarten when it’s time for her to start kindergarten,” Marlene Beauregard, the mother of a student attending the church’s pre-K program, told local news station Fox61. “And now someone is trying to underride my parental rights, my religious right.”
Connecticut defended its law which limits exemption as “necessary to protect public health” and says it will work with the church to minimize disruption as the legal process takes its course.
“The plaintiff will submit information to the court as early as today to provide clarity,” the attorney general’s office told FOX61. ”As always, the state prefers to work with schools collaboratively to meet licensure requirements and avoid any interruption in the education of students.
“That being said, vaccines save lives. The legislature’s action was fully lawful and necessary to protect public health,” it continued. “We have successfully defended multiple baseless challenges to this statute and will continue to defend the statute.”
Religious freedom has been a hot button issue over the last couple of years, especially in light of the draconian measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously reported by The Lion, Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito spoke about a “growing hostility to religion” in America at the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit last July.
“The problem that looms is not just indifference to religion, it’s not just ignorance about religion,” the justice said. “There’s also growing hostility to religion or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.”
He expressed hope that America would “eventually [show] the world that it is possible to have a stable and successful society in which people of diverse faiths live and work together harmoniously and productively while still retaining their own beliefs.”
But he also stressed the importance of vigilance, saying religious freedom is in a “fragile” state in the country currently.
“We can’t … assume that the religious liberty enjoyed today …will always endure. Religious liberty is fragile,” he said. “Religious liberty is under attack because it is dangerous to those who want to hold complete power.”